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Nearby getaway: The unassuming adorability of Olympia



Hands On Children’s Museum features two floors of cleverly integrated, locally themed play structures, exhibits and activities.

PHOTO: JOSHUA HUSTON

Day trips are this season’s answer to weekend activities that engage both parents and children. Exciting eats, broad beaches, fun parks and the Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia make Washington’s gentle capital an easy place to bring the kids. The short drive just an hour south of Seattle makes it doable for a daylong adventure. Or spring for a hotel room at the Governor (621 Capitol Way S., coasthotels.com/hotels/washington/olympia/the-governor); walking distance to the children’s museum will get you a nice view for a the price.

PHOTO: JOSHUA HUSTON

The Bread Peddler brims with croissants, morning buns, cakes and breads.

Fortify the family with breakfast at the Bread Peddler. Inside the artisanal 222 Market (222 Capitol Way N., breadpeddler.com), the bakery displays a long counter brimming with temptingly arranged croissants, morning buns, cakes, and breads. From here, it’s only about a half-mile walk from the hotel to the children’s Museum (414 Jefferson St. NE, hocm.org).

PHOTO: JOSHUA HUSTON

Kids dive into the irresistible water table at Hands On Children’s Museum.

The museum itself is well worth a trip on its own, with two full floors of cleverly integrated, locally themed play structures, exhibits and activities, plus an outdoor discovery center and adjoining playground. Upstairs, Snug Harbor caters to the toddling set with fallen-log tunnels and a padded faux beach. Down the hall, tables are spread with the supplies and instructions for a variety of craft activities. The Tide to Trees Climber lets kids skip the stairs and meet their parents by going up to the eagle’s nest and sliding down the stream slide to the first floor where the water activities are — and the “Emergency” area, with a police car, fire truck, and medic van. When the sound of the sirens get stuck in your ears, take a walk along the west edge of the building, where a variety of sound installations line the way back to the parking lot.

PHOTO: JOSHUA HUSTON

The boat-shaped playground at Priest Point Park lets little ones set sail.

Hop in the car and head across town for lunch at Hart’s Mesa (903 Rogers St. NW). The Tex-Mex brunch restaurant in a historic grocery building (without a sign) keeps plenty of high chairs at the ready, along with a better than basic kids’ menu that includes quesadillas, pancakes, and the “mud puddle”: rice, beans and melted cheese. The eats are hearty, so opt for a brisk walk afterward. Right straight out the door is the broody, ferny Garfield Nature Trail, a short walk down to the water at West Bay Park. Or take a longer walk around the bay to Priest Point Park, including a much gentler beach for strolling and a boat-shaped playground.

If outdoor play is out of the question — Olympia gets about 20 more rainy days than Seattle — or if you need an evening activity, head to Skateland (2725 12th Ave. NE, skatelandolympia.com), Olympia’s retro rink. The old-school skating comes at a price that’s at least as much of a throwback to the ’80s as the sport and setting, but with an unexpectedly high level of fun.

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